Tuesday, February 16, 2016

ask a herder #6

I've been in a funk at work, not really knowing what the problem was....then I realized.....ITS FEBRUARY AND I HAVEN'T BEEN TO A SINGLE SHEEP CAMP. doh, easy fix right there! So I spent my day off in coveralls on the desert and just like that I feel better!

I love it, I love spending time with my ranchers, I love meeting the herders, I love the dogs, I love the sheep and I love being in the wide open spaces. Hours melt into minutes on the desert and I honestly can't think of much I'd rather be doing than helping move camps, deliver groceries and making sure everything is ok.

Q: I know most of your dogs aren't aggressive towards people, but this one is extra friendly...what's his story?
A: Usually we put the guard dog puppies in a corral with sheep so that they will bond with the sheep and not with humans. Fugo didn't spend as much time in the bonding pen as he should have ie, he was "adopted" by humans. Fugo is not only a guard dog, but he is also the only house trained guard dog I've ever known.

Q: So if Fugo is a little spoiled....is he doing ok as a guard dog?
A: He shows alot of the same traits as many of our alpha male guard dogs. He is new to this herd and doing much better. The last herd he was with, there was already 3 alpha male guard dogs there and he wasn't faring so well. I think he is going to turn out ok, but he is for sure the friendliest guard dog that we have. So far he is leading all the pups that we have with this herd pretty well.

Q: Why are there cuts on the sheep's mouths?
A: Because its been so warm (mid 40s) and so windy (30 - 50 mph) the past couple of days its made the snow extremely hard. As they dig through the snow for forage and also for "water" the icy snow can cut their mouths. Because they aren't swollen, bleeding or fresh, they are healing and are past the worst of it. Hopefully we will get some fresh snow and they will really be in the clear.

Q: Why do you mix the ewe lambs and ewes in these winter herds?
A: We like to mix our ewe lambs with the older ewes so they can learn how to live on the open range, especially in the winter, the older ewes know where to go and what to do. When we cut the bucks out of the herd, we will also cut the ewe lambs back into their own herd before lambing.

Q: I'm seeing a lot of "wild" horses today, is the BLM going to have a gather soon?
A: The BLM should be conducting a gather later this summer. They will likely wait until later in the summer when the colts are older to reduce the chance of injuring them. The wild horse herds are reproducing at approximately 20% increases per year. The population gets out of control easily at that rate. There isn't enough grass or water to sustain a population that grows that fast with no management.

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